Feralisation occurs when a domestic population recolonizes the wild, escaping its previous restricted environment, and has been considered as the reverse of domestication. We have previously shown that Kauai Island's feral chickens are a highly variable and admixed population. Here we map selective sweeps in feral Kauai chickens using whole-genome sequencing. The detected sweeps were mostly unique to feralisation and distinct to those selected for during domestication. To ascribe potential phenotypic functions to these genes we utilize a laboratory-controlled equivalent to the Kauai population—an advanced intercross between Red Junglefowl and domestic layer birds that has been used previously for both QTL and expression QTL studies. Certain sweep genes exhibit significant correlations with comb mass, maternal brooding behaviour and fecundity. Our analyses indicate that adaptations to feral and domestic environments involve different genomic regions and feral chickens show some evidence of adaptation at genes associated with sexual selection and reproduction.
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Johnsson, M.; Eben Gering; P. Willis; S. Lopez; L. Van Dorp; G. Hellenthal; R. Henriksen; U. Friberg; and D. Wright. 2016. "Feralisation Targets Different Genomic Loci to Domestication in the Chicken." Nature Communications 7, (): 12950. doi:10.1038/ncomms12950.